ISSN 2330-717X

Swiss Banks: Lost Tax Paradise? – OpEd

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By Sergei Guk

The US authorities have accused eleven Swiss banks of helping US businessmen, who had transferred their money to Switzerland, evade taxes. In such cases Washington’s revenge has no bounds. Germany has also demanded the launch of an international investigation into the activities of the Swiss bankers, who were involved in tax evading operations.

As soon as the first signs of the coming storm appeared on the horizon, many Swiss bankers whose banks helped US businessmen evade taxes, resigned. No one of them will forget the experience of dealing with the US legal system. Three years ago the UBS bank hardly managed to get out of troubles. The bank had to provide the US authorities data on almost 5,000 of its clients and to pay Washington $780 million. The UBS was punished for obtaining $20 billion free of tax. At that time many Swiss banks which had no affiliates in the US also took over the funds of the US businessmen who were hit by the global financial crisis. Those banks did not have to fear of withdrawal of licenses.

After the Swiss Finance Ministry under the pressure of Washington had to unveil the information about thousands of owners of “runaway” funds from the US, the US courts began to issue warrants for the arrest of the Swiss bankers, who helped their clients evade taxes. However, if these bankers stay in Switzerland the US authorities have no right to arrest them even with a warrant. But they can arrest them outside Switzerland with the help of the Interpol. The Swiss bankers who were put on the black list by the US authorities will have to stay in their home country until the end of their lives, unless their banks manage to resolve conflict by paying smart-money to Washington.

Helping businessmen to evade taxes has become a profitable business for many Swiss bankers. Why not, provided that there are tax havens and better technical means of money transfer? At the same time the global community is doing nothing to close the loopholes. We hear from Ruslan Grinberg, director of the Institute of the Economy.

“Unfortunately, some very influential groups in the world are interested in tax evasion and they despise those who have no money. I don’t support the conspiracy theory but some of the experts who take part in G-20 meetings belong to the right liberal establishment, which is a very powerful group. These people are very adventurous and risky and they are ready to commit most serious crimes if they think that such a risk will bring them huge profits.”

Currently, the US is trying to make Switzerland sign an agreement under which Swiss bankers will be obliged to inform Washington about all their clients who are trying to evade taxes. For this they will be granted an opportunity to escape prosecution by paying a certain amount of money to the US treasury within the limit of $10 billion.

The US Justice is tough but it is also selective. For example it fully ignores a tax haven in Miami used by numerous tax evaders from Latin America. The state of Delaware is also untouchable with up to 700, 000 legal persons registered who a free from paying sales tax and tax on employment on condition that they don’t do business in the US and don’t invest into the local economy.

VOR

VOR, or the Voice of Russia, was the Russian government's international radio broadcasting service from 1993 until 2014, when it was reorganised as Radio Sputnik.

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